With the 10-meter long ridged frame slab culvert construction near the fuel depot almost complete, the new Tsirang-Gelephu highway at the old Sarpang town will open to traffic soon.

The Department of Roads (DoR) piled sand to create a 517ms long river embankment.

The highway will be over the embankment walls that has AB mattress laid which looks like bags of cement arranged in rows.

DoR’s chief engineer, CB Mongar, said that before laying the AB mattress at the river embankment, at least 19 gabion walls have been constructed.

“Each gabion wall was built at 30ms intervals. These gabion walls are built to reduce the velocity of river water. The gabion wall will also divert the course of the river, protecting the highway from being washed away,” he said.

The river embankment and construction of gabion walls with AB mattress on its walls is expected to protect the remaining part of the town, which only has a fuel depot, Sarpang’s vegetable market shed and few houses.

The chief engineer said although the protection work was supposed to complete a year ago, unavailability of materials delayed the work.

He said that materials such as AB mattress that was imported from the United States took months to arrive.

The supply order for crash barrier, he said, was also given within time but the manufacturer cited some problem and delayed its supply. “Labour shortage was one factor that delayed the works.”

CB Mongar said although delayed, works would be complete with quality. “Remaining works such as blacktopping the highway, laying crash barrier and construction of footpath are expected to complete by the end of this month.”

The project has a budget of Nu 127 million.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang